Is Equine Herpes Virus (EHV) no longer news?
That could be the case. This winter and spring, announcements about new cases of the virus and the quarantines that new cases require have dominated the horse health news, from coast to coast.
A case in Nevada was announced yesterday by a veterinary clinic, but the state veterinarian, Dr. Anette Rink, said today that the situation does not warrant a public announcement. The entire horse-owning public, by this time, should be on alert that EHV is a risk to be considered no matter where you live.
"I believe that a press release is not necessary in this case," Rink said this morning. "This situation can be managed in cooperation with horse owners and the veterinarian. There is no risk to anyone else."
The Jurga Report contacted Rink after the Desert Pines Equine Medical and Surgical Center in Las Vegas announced the case on the hospital's Facebook page Thursday night. Someone from the staff stayed online late in the night and answered questions posted on the Facebook page by concerned owners. The most common question seemed to be where the horse had contracted the virus.
Among the helpful facts about the case and about the virus that were shared by the vet clinic included: "This horse has been quarantined, treated, and NOT SHOWING SIGNS OF NEUROLOGIC DISEASE. Hospital biosecurity protocol and regulations per Nevada state veterinarian have been followed. All known exposed horses have been quarantined, are being monitored, and will not be transported. In fact, as many as 80% of the United States horse population carry and are not actively affected by herpes virus...The horse is in Las Vegas and is quarantined where there are no other horses on the property...the horse tested positive for the neurotrophic form of EHV 1 though presented as a respiratory infection and has shown no neurologic signs. It is important to remember that there are many horses that are latent carriers of the disease. So we are uncertain if this is a recrudescence of the latent form or the horse had exposure."
While Rink is correct that this appears to be a situation that is under control and being well managed without risk to other horses, it may be helpful to keep alerts coming so that horseowners are not lulled into complacency and relax their biosecurity processes.
Las Vegas will host the Arabian Breeders World Cup next week.
One horseowner who is not treating this news casually is Shawnna Payntier of Moonlit Ranch in Las Vegas. Shawnna, a barrel racer, operates Progressive Equine Services out of her facility; she provides Acuscope Myopulse Therapy to horses that are hauled in for treatment.
Shawnna's facility is now under quarantine.
She said this morning that the sick horse had been hauled to her for treatment and she noticed the next morning that the horse wasn't eating. She notified the owner and by the time the veterinarian arrived, the horse had a fever and was transferred to the veterinary clinic. All of Shawnna's horses were checked and found to be unaffected, but the quarantine was welcomed by her. She said she was happy that the sick horse was in good hands and would get the treatment it needs.
That's the good news. The bad news is that Shawnna's horse activity will be curtailed by this situation. A quarantine means that she can't treat any new horses; she is also not traveling to other barns. "It's important to be proactive," the barrel racer said, noting that she was a stickler for health consciousness long before EHV came to her barn. "The bleach water bottle is your best friend. And no rubbing noses!" she laughed.
Shawnna added that she bleaches shoes and that all clothes go right into the washer. "I drive people crazy," she said.
People who are driven crazy by health-conscious horse owners should turn around and thank them once in a while. It's impossible to say how many potential outbreaks have been avoided by the conscientious protocols practiced by farm and ranch owners when no one is around to enforce them but their own sense of responsibility prevails.
Today's situation in Nevada could have been a much bigger story, but it's not. And that's a story in itself.
The Jurga Report thanks Dr. Rink, Desert Equine Medical and Surgical Center and Shawnna Paintier of Moonlit Ranch for their help with this article.